Chicago is known for its pizza, and during the 12 years I spent living in the Windy City, I ate a lot of it. My waistline is still trying to recover from the experience.
Despite what you may have heard or read, there is no single, distinct “Chicago style” of pizza. Some pizzerias specialize in thick crust, some in thin crust and still others in so-called “gourmet” pies that utilize ingredients you may not normally associate with pizza.
In October, Chicago Magazine updated its list of the top 15 Chicago pizzerias. One that often tops such lists, and to which tourists flock on weekends throughout the year, ranked just 15th in 2015. That’s Pizzeria Uno in the River North neighborhood.
Topping the list — compiled by Carly Boers, Penny Pollack, Jeff Ruby and Carrie Schedler — is Coalfire, with locations in West Town and Lake View. You can view the full list here.
My favorite place for pizza in Chicago then and now did not make the Chicago Magazine list. It’s Frasca Pizzeria and Wine Bar. As its name infers, it’s a place where wine pairing is taken seriously. And during National Pizza Week, Corporate Executive Chef Todd Stein is preparing wood-fired oven specialty gourmet pizzas, and the restaurant is offering deals on wines that pair well with them.
Take a look at Frasca’s wine list here. While we often think of Italian reds and California Zinfandel as being the primary “pizza wines,” as you can see from this list, there are many other types of wine that go well with pizza — including Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. As with all pairings, it’s all about identifying the primary flavor(s) of the food, and at a place like Frasca, there are a lot of flavors to consider.
The name of the restaurant is explained on its website:
“The culture and cuisine of the neighborhood frasca began in the Friuli region of Italy. Literally meaning ‘branch,’ the frasca was identified by a wreath of branches hanging over a farmhouse door signifying the sale of food and wine within. Often attached to a winery, the frasca provided a pleasant and informal gathering place for family and friends to share a meal, a bottle of wine and warm hospitality.”
Sounds like a great place to be, especially on a cold winter evening in Chicago. And even more so during National Pizza Week.
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If you can’t make it to Chicago this week, Vinesse can help with the pizza-and-wine pairing process. Check out our brand new collection of delicious reds that will take any pizza to the next level.